by Samantha Wittchen

Carpeting

The Issue: Getting rid of old carpet.

The Challenge: Between 2 and 2.5 million tons of carpet are discarded each year in the U.S. Carpet can be tricky to recycle because it is made out of many different substances, including nylon, polypropylene, polyester, PVC and latex. However, since carpet production is such a petroleum- and energy-intensive process, it is estimated that carpet recycling programs can save more than 700,000 barrels of oil per year and conserve 4.4 trillion BTUs of energy. Additionally, your old carpet can be made into other valuable products, such as composite lumber, roofing shingles, railroad ties and automotive parts.

The Solution: Because of the complexity of recycling carpet, reclamation and recycling centers can be hard to find. Luckily for the residents of the Philadelphia region, there is a center located in Bristol, just outside the city. The Foam Recycle Center accepts carpets from homeowners at no cost. However, they do not recycle polyester carpet, so it’s important that you check the tag on the back of the carpet before making the trip to Bristol. The Foam Recycle Center is located at 2014 Ford Road, Bristol, PA (610-247-0596) and is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon.-Fri.

The Eco-Aware Consumer: Once you’ve finally sold your disco records and decided it’s time to replace the mustard-yellow shag in the basement, it’s important to look for new products that can be recycled or are made from recycled materials. FLOR carpets (flor.com; interfaceflor.com) can be sent back to the manufacturer for recycling when they’re ready to be replaced. And the Carpet and Rug Institute (carpet-rug.org) maintains a searchable, comprehensive list of sustainable carpet products. Look for their “Green Label” or “Green Label Plus” seals for the added benefit of low-VOC emissions.